Visiting Galapagos, Annan calls for environmental protection

9 November 2003

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today visited the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador and issued a strong call for protection of the natural environment.

Addressing the Charles Darwin Foundation at Galapagos National Park, Mr. Annan hailed Ecuadorans for “the legal and institutional framework that they have put in place, in a participatory way, to protect this treasure.”

At the same time, he cautioned that “all is not well with the global environment,” pointing out that biodiversity is under severe threat, while climate change threatens to wreak havoc and toxic chemicals continue to poison the air and water. In addition, he said, desertification persists and the seas are increasingly overfished.

“For too long, we have failed to face up to the perilous state of the earth, telling ourselves that conservation is too expensive,” he said. “Yet we know when we do face up to it, that the cost of inaction is far greater – and that the costs, financial and otherwise, will affect us all.”

While pledging the UN's continued efforts to usher in a sustainable future, Mr. Annan said the tools to achieve this are on hand. “We already have the science and the green technologies to begin the job,” he said. “We know what policies are needed to strike the right balance between economic growth, social development and environmental protection.”


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